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Russia Complains of Fund Shift from UNMIK in Mitrovica, UN Has No Answers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 21, updated Aug 22 -- During the Kosovo debate in the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Russian Ambassador Nikita Zhukov said Russia opposes the "so-called new administrative office" in north Mitrivica, saying it will be covered by funding previously earmarked for parts of the city through UNMIK, the UN mission in Kosovo.

  At least that's how it was translated. Video here, from Minute 1:24:30.

  But the web site for the Office is literally under construction, saying "Mitrovica North Administrative Office: The content for this part of the webpage is being prepared. Please visit us at a later time." (Kosovo does not have its own Internet domain.)

  Inner City Press went to the UN's noon briefing and asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky if UNMIK deferring to this new office, and the shift of funds, was consistent with Security Council Resolution 1244 and with UNMIK's role.

  Nesirky said he would look into it. But UNMIK envoy Farid Zarif never did a stakeout to take questions, and no answer was received from Ban's spokesperson's office by 6 pm on Tuesday.

  Nor did that office every answer Inner City Press question, just after Ban Ki-moon's whirlwind visit to Serbia, of his response to the request that the UN be more involved in the negotiations. Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey said the UN would wait for the new Serbian government.

  Russia's Zhukov on Tuesday said his country supports the new government's request that the UN be more involved. But where is the UN's response? And there's are other DPKO answers still awaited. Watch this site.

Update of August 22, 2:52 pm -- more than 24 hours after the question was asked, the response below came in:

In response to your question yesterday on Kosovo, you may have confused the issues at hand.

The funds you referred to are generated by Kosovo tax revenue. They were previously administered by the UN Administration in Mitrovica, or UAM. However, Pristina authorities have now established their own facility to deliver municipal services to northern Mitrovica and no longer need to rely on UNMIK for this.

The second issue is the suggestion, by the Serbian side, that the 5th committee should increase UNMIK's funding so that it can take over some of the functions no longer executed by EULEX after its recent restructuring. This is a decision for the Security Council, which has not pronounced itself on the matter.

  The second issue, about the UN Budget Committee, was raised by Serbia. The complaint about the new administrative office (Responsive Paragraph 1, above) was made by Russia's Ambassador Zhukov in the open meeting on August 21.

  And the response is not only to question whether UNMIK can just renounce these functions, but also whether the UN has in any way studied if residents will accept the functions being performed by the Kosovo authorities. What's the UN for? Watch this site.

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